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Interview with Sherman Austin
1) Out of all martial arts, why did you pick western boxing? Studies shows that it is very dangerous due to
constant head blows and long rounds. What was your motivation behind wanting to box?

There's something about boxing that just seemed to click with me. Being able to stand toe-to-toe and
exchange punches with your opponent can sometimes sound simplistic to a casual observer, but the art,
the science of boxing is just as meticulous as any other form of martial arts. I still have much respect for
other forms of martial arts and self defense systems such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, Wing Chung,
Nunchaku, etc. But boxing seemed to stick out to me as it's own beast. I realized right away it required a
different set of conditioning from head to toe and I was immediately addicted to the challenge. Taking
constant blows to the head can make it dangerous, but that's part of the challenge. It's part of the craft and
understanding the sweet science. My motivation for wanting to box I think just comes from life. The
challenges, battles and tests that were always in front of me taught me to always stay determined, warrior
up and work hard to get from point A to point B, regardless what was in front of me, regardless what the
odds were. There's a saying that a champion is someone who get's up when they can't. I think that's what
defines a true warrior regardless if that challenge is physical or mental.. I don't think you find boxing, it finds
you. I think that's the same for all other fighters out there across different forms of martial arts.
2) A long time ago, you were living at an anarchist info-shop and practiced a vegetarian lifestyle.  How has
your lifestyle changed compared to that time?  Has your diet changed as well?  If so, how?

I practiced a vegetarian lifestyle for about 7 years. I stopped when I realized I wasn't getting enough
proteins and other essentials in my diet to keep up with my lifestyle. I think a vegetarian diet can be very
healthy and beneficial to practice, but I do not think I was supplementing properly during that period. My
diet now isn't all that much different now though. I don't eat a lot of red meat. Sometimes I go 1-2 months
without any red meat at all. I still eat turkey, chicken or fish, but not daily. I don't eat pork. I try to pay close
to attention to what i'm eating and how much of it i'm putting in my body. The main things I stay away from
in food are MSG (Monosodium glutamate), high-fructose corn syrup, high levels of added synthetic
sugars, high sodium, or anything too gassy.

3) I notice you've been in a few events where you fight in the ring. Have you been knocked out? If so,
what's it like?

I've never been knocked out or knocked down. But i've been hit hard a few really good times. A lot of
interesting things can happen when you take a hard shot to the chin or head. I guess it depends on how
your body, head, chin, neck and nerves react to the force of a heavy blow..
Some people loose their legs and can't stand for a few seconds, some blank out for a half second but manage to
stay on their feet, sometimes you hear a high pitched noise that feels like it shoots up from your chin to your
temples, sometimes you get dizzy and your equilibrium makes everything move side to side, sometimes you don’t
know where the hell you are for a couple seconds, or sometimes you wake up on the ground not realizing what
just happened. It also depends where you're hit. I've had my equilibrium rocked a few good times and I usually get
that high pitched noise if I eat a really hard shot. The thing about getting hit though is you're a lso learning how
not to get hit in the again.. You might have ate that hard left hook because you dropped your right, or you ate
that uppercut on your chin because you leaned forward too much, or you ate that cross right because you're
footing was off when you're opponent angled you, or you got knocked out because you lunged in with your chin
up. But it's lessons learned. It always takes some pain to gain. Sometimes you gotta pay to play. But you get
better. You learn to get hit less, and by doing so you learn to last longer. Eventually you also learn how to take a
punch where it doesn't have the same shocking effect on you as before. You learn to stay relaxed, breathe, stay
focused, make necessary adjustments and take care of business. You're defense get's better, your head
movement, slipping, blocking, catch and counter, and footing get better. You learn how to keep a poker face if
you do get hit hard so you're opponent can't smell blood and know that you're hurt. Sometimes getting beat up in
the ring is the best thing that can happen to you because it makes you better. That’s why it’s always good to train
with hungry lions.
The scary situations usually don't show up until after you've left the ring though. If you can't track your
eyes properly, feel nausea, or dizziness it's usually signs of a concussion or possibly something much more
serious if you don't get checked out right away. I've never been in that situation, thankfully. Like any other
fighter i've some injuries though.. bruised rib, busted nose tissue, jaw cracked out of alignment. But i've
always left the ring with a big smile.

4) Tell us about your work out routine?

5 mile run. 2-3 rounds of jumprope. 2-3 rounds of shadow. 2-3 rounds of ring circles. Heavy bag work.
Then sometimes 2,6,8 rounds of sparring depending on the day and who's available to work. Then more
heavy bag work, or double-end bag work. Then body work: sit-ups, push-ups and various drills to focus on
abs, speed, strength, etc.
Some days are different than others. Sometimes I focus more on high intensity hill runs, or an additional
5-10 rounds of intense jump-roping focusing on speed and different tricks.  Running is a major part of the
workout. Boxing demands a lot of cardio vascular conditioning and the last thing you want to be in the ring
is tired and gassed out.
5) As I understand, if one uses boxing in a street fight (even if it's used in self defense) you can be sued if you knock someone out, or break their jaw.  
How would you respond to this, and do fighters have to register like the black belts do?

Fighters have to register with the national boxing association or their state athletic commission to become a licensed fighter to compete. If you get into a
street fight and seriously hurt someone you can loose your license and face additional criminal charges from what i've heard. If I was in such a situation
(hopefully never) I would try to de-escalate the situation peacefully. If the only way to de-escalate the situation required some form of physical restraint, I
would try to do so without causing any serious physical harm which likely wouldn’t involve boxing. But if the situation was potentially life-threatening and
posed a real danger then yes like anyone else I would defend myself. Boxing, Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, have plenty of practical applications on the street.
Striking, elbows, knees, arm bars, it’s all on the table. The quicker it ends the better. I’m not a pacifist. And i’m not opposed to fighting fire with fire. But that
doesn’t mean I can’t find and and hold great value to peace, and be at peace within myself. Self defense doesn’t mean you go out and attack somebody, it
means you have the right to defend yourself when you’re in that position to do so.
6) What's your favorite strike on an opponent when you're in the ring?

The over-hand right!

7) Who is your biggest inspiration in boxing, and why?

I have a few, but my biggest would have to be Muhammad Ali. He was a warrior inside and outside of the
ring. When most people in his position would have kept silent for fear of persecution, he spoke up and
said what had to be said. He did what had to be done. And he didn't hesitate to put everything on the line
to speak up and fight for his people and all people of color who were being oppressed by this system.

8) What separates you from every other fighter in your division?

I'm told it's my speed, power and snapping jab.

9) What are some good punk bands to listen to when jumping rope, or working out?

Massacre 68, Inside Out, Anti-flag, The Exploited, Snot ...
10) What do you want to be remembered for at the end of your boxing career?

Someone who always came to fight and displayed tremendous heart, and never backed down from a challenge inside or outside the ring. Boxing can
sometimes be misconstrued as a dangerous reckless sport, but in reality i’ve seen it translating into powerful metaphors which inspire others to tackle the
challenges, personal struggles and injustices around them to achieve something great in life. I see this as a resource for our community, one particularly
that the youth can tap into as an outlet which can transcend into many other things. I’d like to always be a part of that outlet in any way possible.